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Does Moving Kill? The Effect of Migration on Older-Age Mortality

By Janna E. Johnson and Evan J. Taylor


Migration and the health of the elderly are increasingly important topics in today’s mobile and aging society. This is the first known paper to examine the effect of longdistance migration at young ages on the older-age mortality of white internal migrants in the United States. We consider individuals born in the states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota over the period 1916-1927. Despite documented positive selection of migrants from this group on education and earnings, basic OLS results indicate migration has a significant negative effect on longevity over age 65. To account for the selection of migrants on characteristics both observable and not, we employ an instrumental variables (IV) strategy. We instrument for migration using one’s place of birth from a railroad. Our IV results indicate, given one has reached age 65, migration out of these three states reduces the probability of living to age 75 by 16 % compared to those who remain in their area of origin. We consider potential violations of our instrument, concluding that most would predict the presence of positive bias, meaning that the true effect of migration on longevity over age 65 is even more negative i

Year: 2012
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